Thanks in large part to the dedicated effort of artist Berton Ridley, the life of artist Adrienne A. McDonald was celebrated this past weekend in a most moving ceremony by family, friends, fellow artists and arts supporters, fittingly, at the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts in Brooklyn. Though Adrienne had been beautifully memorialized in her Washington, DC hometown, she had spent many years of her creative life in New York and had touched so many that her NY friends felt strongly that she should be celebrated here as well. Berton presided over the gathering and in beautiful tribute, shared his reminiscences and encouraged others to do the same.
Sherri Hobson-Greene and her teenage daughter Loni spoke poignantly of Adrienne’s impact on their lives, as she had once lived with them and had come back for a little “visitation.” Recently, upon returning to the home they once shared with Adrienne, they felt her presence. When they walked in Loni said, “It smells like Adrienne.” Adrienne had always surrounded herself with beauty and magic and the sweet smells of incense burning.
Adrienne’s incredibly poised and wonderfully candid parents, Virgil and Kelley McDonald shared humorous stories of their daughter. Ms. McDonald told a wonderful story of how she became fully immersed in her daughter’s creative life, when she and her daughter-in-law were enlisted to help Adrienne prepare for a doll show in Philadelphia. She laughed (as did the assembly of those who “know how Adrienne is”) as she told of Adrienne’s exacting standards. Baptism by fire, hook or crook, they together completed 100 dolls in time for the Philly show. Every doll sold. Ms. McDonald closed her remarks by admonishing those of us who have collected Adrienne’s dolls, “You take care of them, those are my Grandbabies.”
Yes, Ms. McDonald, we will treasure, cherish and keep them safe.
Adrienne beams at a fashion and doll show she held in the home of Kim and Ira James in the early 1990’s.
Mama Kim James models Adrienne’s exquisitely hand-dyed dress and makes sure everyone is well-fed; daughter Yhanni enjoys her faerie moment.
Photos courtesy of Adrienne’s former roommate, artist Franchell Mack Brown.